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Shopping to lifestyle destination: New plans unveiled for Orchard Rd

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The exterior of Design Orchard, a mall housing more than 60 homegrown labels at the junction of Orchard Road and Cairnhill Road. It stands where the Singapore Visitor Centre used to be.

Singapore

ORCHARD Road promises to be much more than the fabled shopping and entertainment strip that it already is in future.

Plans have been made to strengthen its position as a lifestyle location with more green spaces and a car-free zone.

The plans were unveiled on Wednesday by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Parks Board (NParks). Together with the Land Transport Authority, these bodies have completed a six-month review of the plans for the belt.

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Consultations were also held with private-sector groups, alongside a study led by Australian property consultancy Cistri.

At the launch of Design Orchard, a mall housing homegrown labels, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who is co-chair of the Ministerial Steering Committee for Orchard Road, said the belt must continue to be a place of innovation and evolution, where new concepts and experiences can be tried out.

Design Orchard is one such initiative. The mall groups more than 60 local brands, including retailer Naiise, sportswear outfit Kydra and social enterprise The Animal Project.

Being housed under one roof gives these homegrown labels the opportunity to build their presence alongside the international brands on the shopping and entertainment strip.

Sited at the junction of Orchard Road and Cairnhill Road (where the Singapore Visitor Centre used to be), the mall has a retail showcase on the first level, incubation spaces on the second and a cafe and events space on its roof.

The plans include making Orchard Road "The Lifestyle Destination" - one with innovative retail concepts, attractions, entertainment and events, said STB, URA and NParks in a statement.

The shopping belt is split up into four sub-precincts - Tanglin, Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut - each with distinct identities to be enhanced to cater to the varied interests of Orchard Road's visitors.

The Orchard sub-precinct will remain the retail heart, with the experience there to be enhanced through more street activities and better pedestrian connectivity, the agencies said.

In a statement, Mr Chan acknowledged that much of Orchard Road's past successes as an attraction arose from the public and private sectors cooperating to bring concepts and retail offerings to locals and tourists.

"We will continue our partnership with the private sector to develop Orchard Road as a vibrant lifestyle destination that offers an exceptional experience beyond retail."

To that end, the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) will start a year-long trial in April to introduce activities such as retail and food and beverage pop-ups, arts and entertainment events and event spaces along the pedestrian mall.

ORBA chairman Mark Shaw said the association plans to have more pop-ups and organise more events to generate more buzz.

Ideas for the other sub-precincts include adding more youth-oriented offerings to the Somerset sub-precinct, family-friendly ones to Dhoby Ghaut, and arts and culture offerings to the Tanglin sub-precinct.

To "Bring Back the Orchard" to Orchard Road, NParks is looking to plant trees and shrubs in the colours of the tropics; Istana Park could also be rejuvenated with themed gardens inspired by botanical and horticultural traditions drawn from Singapore's history.

But given that Orchard Road is a thoroughfare for those headed to the central area and is heavily built-up on either side, Minister for National Development and co-chair of the Ministerial Steering Committee for Orchard Road Lawrence Wong said changes will take time and require action by both the government and the private sector.

"We will continue to take in feedback and suggestions, and work with stakeholders to refine and progressively implement the plans to make Orchard Road a great street in our City in a Garden."

A public exhibition on the plans is being held at Orchard Fountain Corner beside 313@Somerset. It will go on till Feb 13.

Details of the plans will be online at https://ura.sg/orchardrd. Members of the public are invited to offer feedback till May 31.